American Airlines makes class warfare easier with 9 clear boarding groups

American Airlines announced new names for the groups in its boarding process. This made it much clearer how, if you’re an ordinary non-preferred customer, you’re one step above steerage. The clarity is great: it further weaponizes envy even as it deflect attention from the privileges American is slowly squeezing out of flying. Here’s the email that I (and … Continued

The power of three for idea development

When I work with authors and entrepreneurs on their ideas, one-on-one sessions miss something. So do big brainstorms. The best number is three. One extra person makes a dramatic difference. I’ve done this “idea development” thing about ten times now. (For authors, I call it a “book whisperer” session.) I start with an author, or … Continued

Coca-Cola Refreshments achieves record low meaning ratio of 4%

If you have bad news, just come out with it. The more you bury it in self-serving bullshit, the more people will just think you’re a dishonest idiot. That’s what happened with today’s spectacularly opaque note from Coca-Cola Refreshments. Here’s the note that J.D. Lowry of Las Vegas found on the break room soda machine. … Continued

HP isn’t actually sorry that it has enslaved your printer and rejected your ink

HP would prefer that you didn’t use third-party or refilled ink cartridges, so it has updated its printers’ firmware to reject “counterfeit” ink. When this upset printer owners, it apologized in the most weaselly, self-justifying way possible. Its statement shows how companies can either apologize, or defend themselves, but shouldn’t do both at once. In March … Continued

The Edelman Trust Barometer shows how we’ve driven into a ditch

We are living in a portentous moment, characterized by distrust in our leaders and institutions. But what’s the context — is it measurably worse now, and what does it mean? The global communications firm Edelman has released its 2017 edition of the Edelman Trust Barometer, a global survey on exactly these topics. Edelman clearly and evocatively … Continued

The most vacuous press release ever: Revolt PR

Sometimes, when I boil down a piece of writing, I find nuggets of truth embedded within a matrix of jargon and bullshit. But sometimes, I just find nothing but platitudes, emptiness, and evidence of incompetence. That’s the apparent communications strategy of Revolt PR. Here’s what the press release says: Revolt PR believes it can help … Continued

Talentedly email: communications experts have a burden to be clear

A friend of mine got an email from Talentedly, a company that “informs, educates and inspires people at work by combining technology and experts to create products that are affordable, accessible and make work feel amazing.” When you describe yourself that way, your communications had better be simple and clear. Theirs wasn’t. Some people start … Continued